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Old 12-30-2017, 10:47 PM
DrummersAreMusicians DrummersAreMusicians is offline
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Default Pete Best - His Weaknesses as a Drummer?

I'm getting to the question of why the Beatles replaced Pete Best with Ringo over a half-century late, but I've always wondered what it was about Best's drumming than led to his ouster. I realize that there were probably personality factors involved too, but it's clear that there were also reservations about Best's drumming. What about Best's drumming were seen as weaknesses?

Aided now by the availablity of YouTube (something that didn't exist a half-century ago) I listened to and watched a few examples of Best's playing. I immediately detected what struck me as two weaknesses.

One weakness was evident in a more recent video in which Best is an older man, and is only a minor weakness. It is that he kept changing cymbals at musically illogical places. The changes didn't hurt the song, IMO, but they did suggest that Best is less than a pro-level drummer. A pro drummer wouldn't change cymbals with seeming randomness, and would use the one cymbal that achieved the desired sound rather than arbitrarily bashing/riding a couple.

The other weakness came from early Beatle recordings in which Best was playing. Although I wouldn't say that Best was dragging, his playing was on the back rather than the front end of the beat. This contrasted sharply with Ringo's playing on the same song. Ringo didn't rush, but he was on the front end of the beat and drove the band. Best's playing was on the back end of the beat, as if the band was pulling him along. Mind, the differences were subtle, and Best wasn't always on the back end of the beat. He sometimes moved to the front end or the middle. But he wasn't super solid, and I can see how his band mates as well as recording engineers would find Best's unsteadiness frustrating. I can also see why the others would prefer Ringo's ability to drive the band.

There's probably also the fact that Ringo was more creative than Best. I didn't hear this in the few songs I listened to, but I know that Lennon liked Ringo's drumming in part because Ringo could quickly grasp a musical idea and come up with a drum part that suited it. Probably Best was less creative and slower to grasp musical ideas, though I can't hear this from recordings.

Anyway, I'd be interested in hearing other drummers' critical opinions of Pete Best's drumming. Praise for Ringo is common topic, but I don't hear much (actually any) specifical criticisms of Best's playing. Complicating this is that, at least IMO, Best wasn't a lousy drummer. He was good enough to propel the Beatles to considerable early success. He was also popular enough with the fans for some to protest his sacking. Yet his drumming was considered weak enough for him to become probably the most famous fired drummer in history. What was it about his actual playing that led to him becoming the most famous fired drummer in history?
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